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Perseverance pays off. Ask Mark. - July 7th, 2014

From time to time I anoint a “new favorite person.” It’s time once again.

Please read this email from Mark (name changed). With the exception of changing some details to preserve anonymity, this is verbatim.

First, a quick aside: some of my articles take considerable effort to write, some seem to write themselves, and some get handed to me on a silver platter. With the exception of a few comments at the end, today’s is on a platter! That’s OK. I work hard enough for the three-point shots; I’ll take the layup when I can get it. Here’s Mark.

“I just wanted to update you on my career situation. I last saw you [seventeen months ago, not the first time we had met], three months after I was laid off from [global technology firm]. I am pleased to tell you that this past Monday I just started at [global professional services firm] in my area of expertise, at a salary commensurate with my experience.

“The happy ending had a rocky road. I interviewed for this particular job a month after my layoff, one of five finalists for a face-to-face interview after all the initial phone screenings. Then there was a job freeze, so no progress. The job reopened this past [four months ago] and I reached out directly to the same hiring manager, who put me back in the recruitment queue, and the process started all over: phone interview with the recruiter, phone interview with the hiring manager who had interviewed me the previous year, phone interview with the peer I would be working with (to see if there was chemistry), face-to-face interview with the hiring manager’s boss on a day when we had a snow storm in the morning, and finally the offer.

“However, I wasn’t sitting on my hands waiting for the job to magically reappear. I was working my network. My primary source of job leads was LinkedIn, from which I applied for at least two jobs a month, and had a constant stream of interviews (mostly initial phoners). The second source was my network. My role is to maintain close relations with research professionals, so I would constantly be in touch with my research friends because they would know about potential openings. In fact that is how I got the job at [company that laid me off 17 months ago].

“Aside from that activity I became active in two professional associations, either moderating or participating in webinars, to keep my name and face out there among my peers who were potential hirers. Through this I obtained some part time contract work which helped keep things afloat, especially after unemployment ran out. And I’ve been asked to be on the advisory council of one of the associations for this year.

“During the entire time I benefited from the strong support my wife and immediate family provided. And of course, every Sunday my wife would give me your column to read. I’d always pick up something, whether it was a new tip, validation of what I was doing, or just encouragement.

“I also got involved civically, donating my huge collection of DVDs to the town library and starting up a monthly movie night.

“Sure, there were a lot of disappointments. One company interviewed me but felt I didn’t have enough experience (with 15 years in the field), and I just found out that the person they hired has less experience. And there was a former colleague from [that same company that laid me off] who was hiring (a lead from one of the researchers I mentioned above), with whom I had a great phone interview and who asked me to send a list of references, but who then disappeared into a black hole of non-returned emails and a voicemail box that wouldn’t accept messages.

“But I kept at it and just had the opportunity at an industry event to thank in person the analyst who put in in a good word for me with my hiring manager over a year and a half ago, and with whom I will be working once again.

“So there you have it. Thanks again for your help and encouragement.”

Friends, this one email is a whole course in how to handle unemployment, whether it is a short or long-term affair: positive attitude, clear thinking, perseverance, focus, consistent proactive behavior, seeing past obstacles, accepting disappointment, networking (not just “defensive” networking but real involvement), volunteering (keeping in front of people and always remembering to find a way help others, no matter what), strong family support, and good old follow up and follow through.

So much for effort; let’s not overlook results. Not only did Mark do all the right things – repeat, ALL the right things – results are the proof of the pudding. This is not the all-too-common story of desperation leading to taking anything one can get. Remember, Mark now doesn’t just have a job, but the one he wanted; he is working for the company he wanted, too; and his salary didn’t take a hit.

Y’know, if I gathered all my new favorite persons in a room, I’d have one helluva dinner party.

Hats off to them all – and to Mark!